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NBA Finals: Nick Collison comes through in the clutch

Collison, as we've known for a long time out here in Big 12 Country, was born ready. Oklahoma City's 105-94 victory in the NBA Finals opener Tuesday proved that again.
by Mike Sherman Published: June 13, 2012

Only Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha played more minutes that Collison in the second half, when the Thunder outscored Miami 58-40.

“We came out, I think we were a little tight,” Collison said. “They took away some of our energy. It didn't seem like us in the first half defensively.

“Second half, we just relaxed and played. We were more physical, more aggressive. We started getting into ball handlers. We didn't have as many breakdowns either. I just think we calmed down and were more comfortable in the second half.”

Ask any Thunder fan: Collison can have that effect on you, on a game. He played all but 29 seconds of a fourth quarter the Thunder led all the way, and the results were spectacular.

Twice he came up with key offensive rebounds on tips — the kind of tips Tyson Chandler made a career out of. Both tips produced big baskets.

The first came early in the fourth quarter, with the Thunder gaining the upper hand but the outcome far from decided.

After tipping out Durant's missed jumper to Westbrook, Collison positioned himself perfectly to set up Derek Fisher, and waved to let Westbrook and everyone else in Chesapeake Energy Arena know what should come next.

Westbrook tossed a cross-court pass to Fisher, who worked off a vintage Collison screen. When the Heat came to help, Fisher fed Sefolosha for a layup. Thunder 78-73.

Later in the fourth, Collison tipped out another miss to Durant for one of his patented step-in 3-pointers and the Thunder led 87-81.

In between those tips, Collison had a steal to trigger Durant's breakaway dunk.

His final line: eight points on 4-of-5-shooting — three dunks and a tip-in. Of his 10 rebounds, five were offensive. All in all, those stats don't blow you away, unless you saw how it all added up.

“We've got to continue to give him confidence by feeding him down low on those dump-off passes for dunks,” Durant said, “and he's going to come back down and give it his all on the defensive end.

“We need that from everybody.”

Especially from Nick Collison.

by Mike Sherman
Sports Editor
Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman, where he has a combined 18 years of service during two stints as a writer and an editor. He covered high school sports for The Oklahoman from 1984-93. He also worked as a news writer for the...
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